Does “social” media work in a business-to-business marketing context?
Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2015
Academic Conferences and Publishing International
School of Business and Law / Centre for Innovative Practice
A number of research gaps have been identified in the use of social media for business-to-business marketing. Particularly, around the use of social media in the crafting of marketing strategies, building of relationships, and measuring the return on investment. The adoption of social media for business-to-consumer marketing has grown exponentially over the past 10 years; through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. The adoption of social media in business-to-business relationship marketing has been significantly slower, and its adoption has not been uniform across platforms, industries and countries. This study investigates the application of social media marketing in business-to-business relationships through a series of exploratory in-depth interviews, undertaken with Europe organisations in 2014. The adoption of social media marketing was found to be “patchy” and “incoherent”. The respondents stated that a lack of strategic understanding and direction resulted inpoor implementation guidelines. Barriers highlighted included, the diversity of social media platforms,the adhoc uptake of social media channels by partners, and insufficient tracking tools to evaluate the effectiveness and return on investment. Consequently, the respondents tended to “experiment” with social media marketing. This experimentation was influenced by the skill set within the organisation, the social media competency levels within their industry, and the level of use by their industry partners. The respondents indicated that a lack of research, case studies and examples of successful social media applications, heightened their concerns about its long-term viability. Nevertheless, respondents considered that social media marketing provided an opportunity to build their brand, and strengthen business networks. The findings from the research provide practitioners with some useful insights in the selection, utilisation and evaluation of social media marketing platforms and their uses in various industries. Further research using case studies and social media data mining will be conducted in order to evaluate the impact of social media marketing on organisations’ business relationships.